He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

The Blog

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    Most people have trouble coming up with cool character names, which is why some kids end up with names like Vagena (true story) or Gaylord (Gaylord Focker is truly the worst name ever). But for fiction writers it’s harder because you have to come up with a dozen or so character names for every single […]

    August 18, 2021

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      I often find action movies boring because I have the same criticism every time: More backstory. I want heroes and heroines and villainesses with complicated motives that are tied to experiences from their pasts. Related posts: Character Development Jetpack: 6 Tricks & 9 Questions Bringing the Pain: How to Hurt Your Characters

    June 1, 2021

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  • Round and Flat Characters: A Guide to Writing Characters image of tag icon

    The keys to a story are the characters, and the key to characters is knowing the difference between round and flat characters. This way, you can be intentional about writing characters who make connections with your audience and also writing characters who support that connection. Related posts: Character Development Jetpack: 6 Tricks & 9 Questions […]

    February 13, 2021

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  • 8 Steps to Creating Character Mannerisms image of tag icon

    You build a character by separating them from the mass of humanity. Making them an individual, rather than a face in the crowd, is the main challenge of writers. A mannerism is one of the best ways to make a character memorable. Just a single unusual or curious affectation can make them stick in the […]

    January 19, 2021

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  • Develop Memorable Characters in 12 Steps image of tag icon

    How well do you know your characters? You’ve probably asked yourself some form of this question before. Most successful writers spend time delving into the characters who populate their pages. Countless resources exist (such as Bookfox’s “4 Character Questionnaire Tests—Can You Pass Them?”) to help you create characters rich in backstory, motivation, and personality—just like […]

    January 18, 2021

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  • How to Kill a Character (with 12 deadly examples) image of tag icon

    In every author’s life there comes a moment when they must slaughter one of their creations. Yep, you’ve got to kill one of your characters.  I know, I know, you love them, you’ve created them, and yet for the sake of the story and for the sake of the reader, they need to bite a […]

    November 2, 2020

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  • Bringing the Pain: How to Hurt Your Characters image of tag icon

    Guest Post by Jody J. Sperling Stories are only truly great when they confront the great fears. Bernard Malamud knew this. His character of Roy Hobbs, a naturally gifted baseball player, was shot by a mysterious and seductive woman, which ruined his career in the big leagues. This was what Hobbs dreaded the most — […]

    December 9, 2018

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    There are three parts to a character: a personality, a backstory, and a motivation. These three things are what create your story.  Most important of the three is the character’s desire, or motivation. A motivation has the potential to be the backbone of the entire story, create a character arc, or add a more complex dimension […]

    August 21, 2016

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  • Character Development Jetpack: 6 Tricks & 9 Questions image of tag icon

    Your characters matter more than your plot. I’ll say it again: your characters matter more than your plot. You can give your audience dragons, mystery, romance, or even a massacre at a wedding, but none of that will matter if the reader doesn’t care what happens to the people. They are the ones who drive […]

    June 28, 2016

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